Bangkok, Thailand, July 10, 2016 – Brazil reclaimed their World Grand Prix title after producing a magnificent come-from-behind 3-2 (18-25 25-17 25-23 22-25 15-9) victory over title-holders USA at the final showdown of the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix at the Indoor Stadium Huamark on Sunday.
USA aimed for their successful back-to-back title and an improved win-loss record against Brazil. In their 22 matches contested in the World Grand Prix, which Brazil won 13 and USA 9. In the previous edition, USA delighted home fans in Omaha with their victory, while Brazil had already claimed 10 World Grand Prix titles including in 2013 and 2014. This time, Brazil won a rematch of the 2012 London Olympic Games final. Fabiana Claudio led Brazil with 18 points including 17 kills from 28 attempts. Foluke Akinradewo scored a match-high 19 points for USA including 16 points on attacks. Kimberly Hill added with 14 on attacks and 3 aces.
USA and Brazil fielded a strong starting line-up in the first set. With Kimberly Hill and Foluke Akinradewo overcoming the Brazilian blockers with aggressive attacks, USA snatched the set 25-18.
In the second set, Hill struggled to fix the broken pass of her team-mates, allowing the Brazilians to score several crucial points through Sheilla Castro’s powerful mid-court attacks and Fabiana Claudino’s fast spikes. Brazil took the set 25-17.
The third set was a repeat of the second with Brazil taking an initial lead before USA clawed their ways back to narrow the margin 21-23 and 23-24. A strong spike from Thaisa Menezes went wide, but Brazil successfully challenged the rivals’ block touch. Brazil snared the hotly-contested set 25-23.
Kimberly put USA back on track in the fourth set, but Brazil also stormed on. The score was tied at 20-all. USA played more consistently to clinch the set 25-22.
Brazil remained on dominant form in the decider, while the USA’s nerves began to fray. Fabiana’s thundering attack gave Brazil a crucial point for a 14-8 lead. USA won one more point from an erratic serve by Sheilla before Fabiana overcame the smaller blockers with her deadly attack. Brazil captured the set 15-9, match and the gold medal.
Earlier, the Netherlands overpowered Russia in hard-fought 3-2 (18-25 23-25 30-28 25-21 15-9) victory over Russia to claim bronze, their second medal since they had captured the gold medal in 2007.
In the 5th-6th place playoff, China overcame Thailand’s strong challenge to beat the hosts 3-0 (25-23 25-23 25-12). Thailand did not win a set in the World Grand Prix Finals at home to take the sixth place. However, there was something to be proud off when Nootsara Tomkom took the Best Setter award to receive US$5,000 cash.
After the Thai match against China, Thailand national head coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai called it a day. Thailand Volleyball Association held a testimonial match to honour him. His past story since he was the national team player was on display at the giant screen. Thai spikers took around him. He received a bouquet of flowers. His parents stepped in and the coach was on his knees to perform “wai” to them. TVA’s president Somporn Chaibangyang gave a speech in honour of Kiattipong and after that, the devoted coach waved his hand while walking around the gymnasium in signal of goodbye to all spectators. Hundreds of fans inside the venue were in tears.
Final World Grand Prix Group 1 rankings
Best Outside Hitters: Sheilla Castro (Brazil), Kimberly Hill (USA)
Best Setter: Nootsara Tomkom (Thailand)
Best Midle Blockers: Rachael Adams (USA), Thaisa Menezes (Brazil)
Best Libero: Lin Li (China)
Best Opposite: Lonneke Slowtjes (Netherlands)
Most Valuable Player: Natalia Pereira (Brazil)